August 31, 2007

Time for Congress to get off the couch

This is not a man-bites-dog story. This is expected, predicted and, tragically, the logically conclusion.

Obesity continues to rise in 31 states with no state showing a decline. Obesity rates rise in 31 states -

But the reaction is not what we expect from our leaders.

No one is standing up to the fast-food lobby, nor to the corporate farms and its subsidies, nor
to the cola companies. Everyone is taking this laying down.

What was President Bush's reaction to this updated survey by the Trust for America’s Health, a research group that focuses on disease prevention?

Nothing. Not one word. Reminds me of global warming. Keep denying it because it's not on the conservative Republican agenda.

As for the survey, the news is terrible for adults, especially for the South, where Mississippi has the most overweight citizens.

The report also finds that rates of overweight children (ages 10 to 17) ranged from a high of 22.8 percent in Washington, D.C. to a low of 8.5 percent in Utah. Eight of the ten states with the highest rates of overweight children were in the South.

In Connecticut the obesity rate is horrible for its youth: 37th highest rate of overweight youths.

In New York the youths are getting bigger by a New York Minute: 18th highest rate of overweight youths.

In Ohio the adults are not as small as buckeyes: Ohio has the 15th highest rate of adult obesity at 26.0 percent.

When will our representatives get off the couch and start exercising food leadership?

August 25, 2007

Steamed vegetables can be bad for you

At restaurants there's no nutritional label to read. There's no complete list of ingredients. There's no list of calories and carbs and especially FAT! exposes how -- even non-fast food -- restaurants can invisibly wreck your diet.

The sneaky ways restaurants wreck your diet:

"You may think you know what you’re doing when it comes to eating healthy while eating out at restaurants, but do you really? Do steamed veggies and egg white omelets sounds like healthy fare? considering they aren’t normally, at least not as much as you might think. Truth is restaurant food generally tastes as good as it does considering chefs and cooks have any number of tricks up their sleeves to add fat. Fat makes food taste great, sadly, and so they put it in and on everything. Besides steamed veggies (which are often coated in oil before and after steaming) and egg-white omelets (which are cooked in loads of oil in the skillet), other high-fat restaurant shockers"

August 22, 2007

Will fast foods stop 275 pounders?

Christian Hales of Salt Lake City wrote to the the editor of The Salt Lake Tribune with an unique suggestion.

Stop obese customers from entering Burger King if they weigh more than 275 pounds. He'd have the doors locked, bolted and shuttered.

Here's his letter. Food for thought?

Scaling back obesity
I am writing to voice my concern about obesity in this country and to suggest one possible solution. My proposal is that a scale system be set up at the major fast-food restaurants like Wendy's, Burger King, Dairy Queen and McDonald's. When customers approach the front doors, they walk over a scale that weighs them. The scale has been programmed not to let anyone over a certain weight pass through the doors. If anyone over, let's say 275 pounds, steps on the scale, the doors will lock, preventing their entry into the restaurant. If we as a country can find a way to limit the amount of fatty foods that the average American consumes, I believe our world will be a happier place.

August 21, 2007

Does The Cheesecake Factory cause cancer?

We all know too many calories and not enough exercise causes obesity in Americans. In previous blogs I pointed out that The Cheesecake Factory has some of the highest caloric portions of all the restaurants. Now the American Cancer Society points out that obesity is tied to an increased risk of several different types of cancers, such as breast cancer in post-menopausal women, as well as cancers of the colon, endometrium (uterus), esophagus and kidney.

It doesn't take a logic professor to tell you that it's possible The Cheesecake Factory causes cancer, the same way Philip Morris causes cancer. Of course The Cheesecake Factory will vehemently deny it, and talk about no cause-effect relationship and freedom of choice, but didn't the American tobacco companies do the same thing for the last 50 years.

ABC news has a great article written by Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. He's a doctor who's had his own battle with weight. Like I have said many times before, it's not easy to live in America and lose weight or even keep your weight appropriate.

The key is making the RightChoice every day of your life.

He writes:
I can sympathize with every one of you out there, especially the older folks, who find it so difficult to get on track and lose some weight. I, too, have had a lifelong battle with being overweight and obese.

After a significant health scare, I tried to go back to a healthier diet.

After about 18 months, more or less, I have been able to lose a bit over 30 pounds. It hasn't been easy, and the reality is that it takes constant attention.

I was once called "Mr. No Fun" by a server at a local waffle shop in north Georgia when I asked for an egg-white omelet, no cheese, no grits, no toast, and yes, please, some sliced tomatoes on the side.

August 19, 2007

Let's take the ham out of burger

That's absolutely no reason why burgers couldn't be healthy and the RightSize of calories, fats and carbs.

But restaurants -- especially, fast food restaurants -- need to turn those Golden frowning arches upside down into smiling healthy arches.

EatBetterAmerica has six smart, better burgers than the typical corn-laden beef burger.

You have to ask yourself, why can't each of these be a option at McDonald's, Wendy's or Burger King? (Could it be that Congress only subsidizes corn farmers?)

Next time you are out at your favorite restaurant try to order a turkey burger...or a soy, portobello, veggie or venison burger. The restaurant won't have it, but if we all keep asking for them, eventually we'll convince restaurants we want to be healthy.

EatBetter America in Branch Out with Burgers writes:

The aroma fills the neighborhood. And that distinctive sizzling sound can mean only one thing: It's grilling season. But while you're enjoying those burgers, be mindful to keep your meals healthy for your heart. 'A burger doesn't have to mean beef,' says Rachel Brandeis, MS, RD, LD, a registered dietitian with a private practice in Atlanta. 'By changing out ground beef, you can save on calories and cholesterol.' Meet These Grilling Greats Here are six heart-smart choices along with tips for better-tasting burgers.

Chicken and Turkey:
More supermarket space is now devoted to ground turkey and chicken. The trick is finding the lowest-fat versions to make burgers.
* Heart-healthy benefits: Some ground turkey breast can be 99% fat free. In addition, ground poultry breast can have fewer calories than a typical ground-beef burger.


August 18, 2007

Restaurant Critics: Part of the Problem?

Every day I read another restaurant review where the critic associates huge portions with a favorable review. This isn't like global warming or the big bang theory: There's no disagreement that large food portions are wrong for Americans. Avoiding the wrong size of calories and fat is the #1 way to avoid becoming obese.

Yet in every newspaper in America -- save a couple -- the restaurant reviewer falls into the lazy American slogan that bigger must be better. It must be good 'cause it's so damn big.

Just in one article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (I realize it will never win a Pulitzer; still it perpetuates the portion myth), the restaurant critic mentions -- not once, but twice -- in glowing terms "huge portions."

This longtime South Broward favorite continues to delight diners with dependable Indian food. Portions are huge and while fried dishes tend to be a bit soggy, the curries are very good and rice dishes, like biryani, are text book.

If you can live with the enormous portions and sometimes over-the-top conceptions (and Michael Blum's place is packed with fans who can), it's wonderful fun without any pretense to subtlety. Plum-glazed salmon, Asian ribs, turkey meatloaf and Yankee pot roast are all highly recommended.
Don't believe there's any connection. The University of Oregon reported: "Recent studies have shown that there is a higher rate of obesity among...who live in one of four Florida Counties: Broward, Duval, Palm Beach..." Of course the Sun-Sentinel covers Broward county.

But it's not just fat Florida where you find portion flattery.

Head just north of Florida for Atlanta and the Daily Report's restaurant critic -- who, obviously has never been to Italy -- loves the portions.

"Little Italy, lotta food" -- restaurant slogan
We chose the lasagna, which our capable waitress, Autumn, brought to our table within five minutes. It came piping hot with accompanying garlic bread. With just the right combination of pasta, meat and tomato sauce, the dish was larger than we could handle. “For the food and the volume that you get,” says D’Angelo, “you never leave here complaining. That’s where our slogan comes in. You literally get a lot of food. After 13 years, how could we start changing the portions?”
I have been to Italy...many times. Not once in the more than 100 meals did any restaurant approach "lotta food".

I could spend the rest of the day copying and pasting WrongSize restaurant reviews. But it's "hugely" clear that critics must change. It's irresponsible. It's like doctors promoting cigarette smoking. Oh, that's right. Doctors did promote smoking in the 40s and 50s. And it was irresponsible.

Stop the obesity obscenities in newspapers now. You can change the World (and Times and Herald), write your editor!

August 14, 2007

China recalls McDonald's

Which is worse: putting lead paint on toys and exposing a million children to potentially lead poisoning? Or, putting fat-laden french fries and hamburgers in the bellies of hundreds of million of children exposing them to potentially obesity, diabetes, heart disease and premature death?

Neither is a statistical certainty. No one has claimed -- yet -- their child has a learning disability from lead paint on a Mattel toy. No one has claimed -- yet -- that fast food has led to premature death for their child. In both cases people voluntarily bought the product. No one forced anyone to buy the toys or burgers. There's plenty of other options. Buyer beware, most Americans would say.

Americans demand certainty. It took nearly 100 years of proof before most Americans would accept that smoking causes cancer and premature death. We used lead paint for a 100 years before accepting that children sometimes chew on items with paint, and some children developed learning disabilities from that kind of paint. Even now the government doesn't require you to remove that lead paint around your window.

Americans have had fast food for just 50 years. And now we have an obesity problem. This blog is starting the 50-year countdown. I'm looking forward to the year 2067 when America recalls all fast food because everyone now agrees it causes obesity.

If Mattel recalled toys with lead, should China recall American fast food?

August 8, 2007

Iowa votes for unhealthy food

When you head to the Iowa State Fair, you've better bring your walking shoes, light comfortable clothes, but leave your healthy salad and water at home. Because the Iowa State Fair doesn't want any stinky, East Coast liberals with their tofu and sprout sandwiches. In fact, the reports no beverages, food or coolers may be brought into the fair. The exception is baby food. OK, your baby can eat healthy, lady. You can't.

The Iowa State University Cooperative Extension has estimated the calories of fair favorites.

- Cotton candy: 100 calories.

- Caramel apple: 200 calories.

- Chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick: 300 calories.

- Plain hamburger: 450 calories.

- Fried candy bar on a stick: 550 calories.

- 64-ounce soda: 800 calories.

- Fried turkey leg: 1,100 calories.

There are more than 220 foodstands at the fair with dozens of items. What healthy foods does the website suggest?

- Baked potato (278 calories with nothing on it)

- Corn on the cob (155 calories with butter)

- Salads (watch out for the dressings at sometimes 500 calories)

- Mixed fruit cups

- Shish kebabs (who knows what's in those)

- Veggie corn dog (Cotton candy might have less calories and taste better)

- Turkey tenderloins

- Pork chop on a stick (154 calories for 3 oz.)

That's it. A thousand food items in the breadbasket of the nation, at the show place for agriculture and food in America, and the website can find less than 10 healthy food items.

I'd suggest you'd bring your own food and water to the fair. But that's illegal in Iowa.

August 3, 2007

Eating at McDonald's means low paying job

If you eat at McDonald's in high school, that might be the only place you'll be qualified to work.

That's one conclusion I drew after reading Time Magazine's article, Overweight Kids: College Less Likely.
Using college enrollment as a measure of academic success, University of Texas at Austin sociologist Robert Crosnoe found that obese students had a worse experience at school than their thinner peers and were less likely to attend college, and that the effects of being overweight hurt girls far more than boys.

Recent research has shown that overweight youngsters are often teased, ostracized and isolated by their peers, and are sometimes treated differently by teachers and even parents. According to Crosnoe, children often internalize this negative social feedback — whether real or perceived — which can lead to alcohol and drug use, failure in school, truancy and suicidal thoughts. "They are just unhappy at school," he says, "and it does things to them in the present that have long-term consequences."
Seems to me this should be reason number 340,329 not to eat at McDonald's or other fast foods.